Committee preparing for the worse


September 26, 2012

POINT PLEASANT — Developing better communications and a volunteer base were two crucial lessons which came out of the storms which caused havoc in Mason County this summer.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Mason County Local Emergency Planning Committee, Chuck Blake, director of Mason County Emergency Management, said he believed some solutions to these problems are on their way to being remedied.

Blake said he was going to suggest the idea of purchasing the rights to a commercial AM radio channel to the Mason County Commission. This channel would be used for emergency announcements - the use of this radio station would’ve come in handy during the storm when phones were down and electricity was out for days. Blake said the AM station is just an idea at this stage.

Blake said he’s also recommending the county commission approve Tony Jones as the leader of a new Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) which is a group of community volunteers that assist during emergencies. As these efforts begin to take shape, CERT meeting and training events will appear in local media outlets and on the Mason County Emergency Management Agency’s new Facebook page. The Facebook page will also be used as a new way of getting information out to the public.

RC Faulk of Mason County 9-1-1 reported, like Mason County EMS and 9-1-1, the Mason County Sheriff’s Department has now switched over to using radios on the digital state-wide network. This change in the use of radio frequency was a federal government mandate. It has also resulted in these agencies no longer being found on digital scanners.

Faulk also reported the 9-1-1 emergency operations mobile trailer and generator would be transported from Point Pleasant to the Mason area. This means if one area is hit by a disaster, emergency personnel could move to the other location to set up a command post. Faulk then said all the computers at the 9-1-1 center would soon be wired with the capability of receiving and making telephone calls in the event the phones go down.

Also discussed at the meeting:

Staff from the Mason County Health Department reported three cases of whooping cough had been diagnosed in the county, all of which have been treated and are no longer contagious. Whooping Cough (pertussis) vaccines are available at the health department. The health department is also still waiting on all its influenza vaccine which will be made available to the public. There is an evening vaccine clinic from 3-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the health department.

Staff from the Lakin Correctional Facility for Women reported an open house and luncheon will be held there at noon, Oct. 17.

Staff from Prestera Center reported it will be offering a program of Suboxone and counseling to help treat those battling drug addiction. However, this program will be small and have limited, qualifying clientele to start - a maximum of 12-14 people will be admitted into the program at one time. Suboxone is a narcotic medication used in the treatment of opioid dependence. As staff from Prestera put it, heroin is definitely in Mason County. With pain pills becoming more expensive, many addicts are turning to heroin for a cheaper high.

Staff from Pleasant Valley Hospital reported its decontamination room adjacent to the emergency room is completed and training on its use is underway for staff. This room will be used to treat patients who have been in contact with methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs or materials. At 1 p.m., Oct. 19, PVH will dedicate the room to the late Saybra Pearson, PVH safety officer and LEPC member who championed the decontamination room. It was also reported PVH will go completely smoke free as of Nov. 15.

Staff from the Mason County Board of Education reported there is a need in the school district for substitute bus operators, custodians and secretaries. Larry Wright from the MCBOE also spoke in support of the school district’s bond levy, saying it would raise taxes around $1.80 per month on average and paid for things like books, supplies, extracurricular trips for students, etc.

Staff from Mason County EMS said there was a new transport facility being built near the 9-1-1 center and seven ambulances are on the roads every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

A representative from CriPro Technology also spoke to LEPC members about disaster preparedness software.

The next LEPC meeting is Wednesday, Dec. 19 at PVH. Yesterday’s meeting was hosted by Mason County EMA and 9-1-1 at the emergency operations center.